Police are investigating after a needle was found in a capsicum by a Countdown customer over the weekend.

A customer reportedly found the needle in a red capsicum yesterday after he purchased it from Countdown Bureta Park, Tauranga, on Saturday.

A Countdown spokesperson said the incident has been referred to the New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Primary Industries.

"We've been in touch with both the customer and MPI. The matter is now with the NZ Police who are investigating," the spokesperson said.


"We take food safety incredibly seriously and will work closely with both the NZ Police and MPI to cooperate fully with their investigation."

The incident comes after a needle was found inside a punnet of strawberries purchased at a supermarket in the South Island.

Police said the fruit was purchased at a supermarket in South Canterbury's Geraldine over the weekend.

The needle and strawberry were part of a punnet purchased from the supermarket.

A customer purchased the punnet of strawberries on Saturday morning and reported to police in the evening the strawberry had been tampered with.

A police spokesperson said they were investigating.

It is the second incident of its kind in New Zealand in recent months.

In September thee needles were found in strawberries in New Zealand, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries.


A timeline released by MPI said three needles were found in three strawberries in one punnet.

The needles were found in a punnet at the Countdown St Lukes, Auckland, supermarket.

Woolworths New Zealand also informed MPI that the needles had been found in one of their strawberries.

The incidents follow more than 100 reports of fruit being tampered with across Australia.

In September, University of Canterbury Professor of Sociology Greg Newbold said it was likely a "copycat situation".

"It has become a bit of a fad. Somebody has seen they can get publicity, become famous for an afternoon. As long as hysteria is generated it will keep feeding into the problem."


The drive of those behind it was similar to pyromaniacs.

"It creates panic and they get a reaction, much in the same way pyromaniacs set fires then watch fire brigades arrive to put them out

"It can make them feel important in their mostly insignificant lives."

The best way to deal with these situations was to downplay them, Newbold said.

"Millions and millions of dollars of strawberries are being thrown out.

"The most rational way to deal with it is to put them back on the shelves, put up a warning sign saying be careful, maybe put a 10 per cent discount on or something like that. Then people can make their own choices.


"All you need to do is put a knife in, or bite gently – you're not going to hurt yourself.

"That would end the whole situation, and would not feed into the egos of the people who are doing it. This is a huge storm in a teacup."